Why would an 11 year veteran police officer
give up his patrol duties in exchange for a classroom assignment?
Twelve years ago as a Galesburg patrol officer I answered this very question.
The DARE Program was new in Illinois and certainly a new concept for
The Student Assistance Coordinator for School District 205 met with my police chief and requested that a DARE officer be assigned to the schools. She recommended me for the job! Could I do this job I later asked? Would the kids like me? What would my fellow officers think of this? Patrolmen are supposed to patrol the streets, answer radio calls, certainly not spend your 8 hour shift in the classroom teaching 12 year old kids ! But this was 1989 and the times were changing in law enforcement. Too many kids were involving themselves in illegal drug use and violence and small to medium size communities found themselves in the middle of this drug abuse wave sweeping across our country.
The department decided to move forward and I got the assignment - the city's first DARE officer. Circumstances, though, were preparing me for this. As a young patrolman, three officers took an interest in me that soon shaped the focus of my career. As I watched Jesse Perez, Sonny Duncan and John Schlaf do their jobs, I saw that they each took a strong interest in community work especially with the kids. In a sense, they mentored me and encouraged me to have this strong interest in working with these young kids on the street. My teaching experience at the time consisted of five years teaching Sunday School in church. Although this doesn't seem like much, it prepared me for the many years of lesson and class preparation and in communication skills.
Now 12 years later, I'm looking forward to the beginning of another school year teaching Galesburg kids life -skills that will help them refuse drugs and to be successful in life. For me it's all about helping kids. In fact, the two high school girls who have put this website together are former DARE students of mine and current CARE members. Rachel and Beth Ann are hard working teen-agers who want to make a difference in their community and I wish them all the best.
Officer Ed Barragan